Animal inside

Author: Charlotte McLachlan

Animal Inside

Charlotte McLachlan
26 February 2021

McLachlan, C. (2021). Animal inside. (A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of Master of Fine Art at the Dunedin School of Art, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand)


This essay extracts elements from Charles Perrault’s fairytale Donkeyskin (1922) as an apparatus for my research. Donkeyskin places horror within the familial context of home and family. The psychoanalytic concept “the uncanny” is used to develop the tension between home as a safe place, and the home as the site of terror in the fairytale’s main theme. Other psychoanalytic motifs include the double and the repeated, evidenced in the dualities of the gigantic and the miniature, inside and outside, and both conscious and unconscious narratives. A further psychoanalytic concept, “the shadow,” is used to explore the darker aspects of the human psyche. This includes our propensity to violence against those with less power than ourselves, and to our relationship with animals, referencing the killing of a donkey in this macabre fairytale.

The original tale is modified through the development of my own iconographical devices and motifs. This practice fits within postmodernist feminist discourse’s assertion of the value of rewriting and considers the ways that traditional fairytales may have encouraged or facilitated familial abuse. The series of narrative paintings that this essay contextualizes explores scale in relation to positions of power. The paintings are not gory, but instead allude to violent themes in more subtle ways. The dreamscape qualities of the works invite the viewer’s own projections and a reinterpretation of the tale.

Key words: surrealism, feminism, psychoanalysis, the uncanny, animals

Charlotte's supervisors were Bridie Lonie and Anita de Soto.


This abstract is available under a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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